Michael Frost completed the Trinity Dip. TESOL with Oxford TEFL in 2012. Here he explains his reasons for taking the course and about his experiences during the online and face to face phase.
In 2004, after a couple of years of post-university office drudgery, I decided I wanted to pack my bags and see the world. Teaching English would provide the means to achieve that end. After searching online I came across an organization called Oxford TEFL offering accredited teacher training courses in a number of exotic locations: Barcelona, Cadiz, Prague…
Shortly after completing my Cert. TESOL in Prague, I found a teaching job in Xi’an, China, home of the world-famous Terracotta Army. I subsequently taught in Moscow, Hangzhou and Tianjin, the latter being the place I now call home. For most of this time, although I enjoyed teaching (especially Business English classes), professional development was an afterthought, taking a back seat to travel, language learning and generally having a good time. However, at the back of my mind was a persistent little voice saying ‘So you’ve got the Cert. TESOL, what about the Diploma?’ In October 2011 I decided to take the plunge.
From the start, almost all of my complacencies and assumptions about teaching were challenged. During the online phase, I learnt about various approaches to language learning, discussed concepts and methods with notable figures from within the field (Scott Thornbury and Adrian Underhill were especially insightful), and for the first time in a long time felt part of a professional community of skilled practitioners.
The course had an immediate impact on my teaching. I wanted to apply the new ideas and insights from the courses with in my lessons. Phonology was a particular area of improvement for me. I was able to present the phonemic chart more vividly and memorably, and also to draw students’ attention to supra-segmental features such as word and sentence stress and intonation. In addition, the three long projects involved a lot of research and self-reflection, which also gave me more confidence to take a more prominent role as a guide and resource for colleagues in my own place of work.
From a career perspective, the course had an immediate impact as I was promoted to be a Director of Studies of a newly-opened school shortly after starting the online phase. This meant that I was twice as busy as before, having to juggle my new role with keeping up with the course. Needless to say, I did not get much sleep at this time. However, the course was invaluable in helping me to define best teaching practice and benchmark teachers’ classroom performance, two important roles of a DoS.
The four-week, face-to-face component in Barcelona in the summer of 2012 was a very intense, challenging experience. I had to quickly adjust my teaching style to suit Spanish speakers, who were much more demanding in terms of pacing and variety of activities than the Chinese learners who I was most familiar with. The Oxford TEFL team provided invaluable preparation and support to help us to perform as well as possible in the various assessments. They also took time out from their busy schedules to take us to interesting places around the city, including the all-important cheap mojitos bars!
Since completing the course, I continued to develop academic management skills for a couple of years, and am now moving into full-time examining with IELTS. In short, doing the Dip TESOL course has been an immensely rewarding and useful experience which has transformed my professional self-identity. I would strongly recommend it to anyone serious about developing a career in ESL. And there is no better choice to guide you through the course than Oxford TEFL.
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